When Harry Met Sally might just be my favorite romantic comedy of all time (though, according to my across-the-street neighbor, that distinction belongs to Notting Hill). It’s a big statement, I know – so maybe we can narrow down the category a little: if not the best romantic comedy ever, it’s certainly the best romantic comedy to watch on New Year’s Eve. Why?
It has two New Year’s Eves in it. And the two New Years-es (the plural for New Year’s I just made up) bookend Harry and Sally’s slow-burn of a relationship perfectly; chronicling their descent into capital-T True Love. The first New Year’s finds them, as Sally so charmingly calls it, “dancing cheek-to-cheek.” And as “Auld Lang Syne” swells in the background, they simultaneously come to the realization that they might just be more than friends. They flee as the midnight countdown begins, clearly spooked, and their perfunctory kiss belies their true feelings for one another: in other words, rom-com gold.
The second New Year’s brings them full circle, and has one of the best running-to-your-love sequences in rom-com history – seriously, that’s a trope that I may never get tired of. That, and rainy declarations of love (something most recently seen in the season finale of Masters of Sex, randomly enough).
As Sally dances and laughs with equal misery with her overzealous blind date, Harry breaks into a run as “It Had to be You” swells through the score. Music is just another perk of watching a Nora Ephron flick, isn’t it? Their eyes meet across the room (rom-com trope #23) and he angrily professes his love (rom-com trope #46) as she just-as-angrily refutes it. And finally, finally, they go full head-over-heels just in time for a repeat New Year’s Eve kiss (okay, I’ll stop listing rom-com tropes now) as everyone around them sings the words to “Auld Lang Syne.”
They joke about the meaning of “Auld Lang Syne’s” puzzling lyrics, and it’s the perfect button to the button to an even-more perfect NYE flick: as Sally sums it up, “It’s about old friends.” And mock my soft heart all you want, but I can say with zero irony that I have never heard the song “Auld Lang Syne” the same ever since.